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Allen Evans

Improving the craft...

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by , 11-04-2011 at 03:11 PM (737 Views)
I watch a lot of lessons when I'm at big tournaments. I've seen a lot of top coaches give lessons. Some lessons have held my attention, and some haven't. The ones that held my attention have always very different (imagine comparing the lessons of Vladimir Nazlymov to Paul Soter, for instance) but each interesting lesson had certain spark that less interesting lessons lacked. I can recognize that spark very quickly, even across a big venue.

Trying to put my finger on that "spark" has been difficult.

A few weeks ago I was at a seminar with a very strong coach, Gary Copeland. One of the things I enjoy about working with Gary is the way he answers questions that many coaches don't answer. Often these questions aren't very well formed, but they (in my opinion) are the ones that get to the center of that "spark" that makes a good lesson.

Many coaches side step these questions, or give vague platitudes. "It comes with experience", or "I just know what to do here", or "It's the art of the coach to figure that out". Gary Copeland always goes a step beyond these answers to give solutions that have worked for him (though, he too admits that true learning comes from making mistakes, recognizing them, and correcting them in a way that suits you). His suggestions are practical observations that often make a big difference in how the lesson flows.

One of the things he pointed out in my epee lesson was that while my first cue was good, my second action lacked a certain "immediacy" or abruptness that a real bout would have. This was an excellent observation, and one I worked on for the rest of the weekend. Sometimes I could pull it off, and sometimes I couldn't. But when I did, I knew that I was giving a lesson at the top of my ability.

I've got to work harder on this idea of "immediacy" in all my lessons. It's one step closer to that "spark".


  1. catwood1's Avatar
    Allen, the further I go into the sport, the more I see coaches who think they know it all. I'm constantly amazed at the way these coaches conduct themselves an act. Some still attend clinics, some do not, but they all share the same stubbornness and think they know everything already, and are not interested in improving themselves.

    Bravo to the coaches who, after many years of coaching successful athletes, are still actively trying to improve themselves as coaches. I'm AMAZED at how rare these coaches are, but you are definitely one of them.

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